I figured if I gave myself a bit of a gap from racing then it would be easier to measure the improvement and still enjoy the training without disappointment and pressure. The sessions in the middle group had been going very well and it became more and more common for me to see 7:20 pace on my watch as I was training. It was quite hard at times as the 3 other people who usually run with me at that pace in my group (the bottom ability of the middle group if you get me!) were taking a break from training, 2 injured and one a new dad! So I was kind of a Billy no mates in training for some time, running the best I could off the back of the group. A lot of the time I felt a bit disheartened being at the back, even though I knew my times were good I had no one to play with and work off, But I persevered and carried on.
The week leading up to Blaydon I was on school holidays and all I wanted to do was just run but I knew I had to be sensible with my running and had to stick to a plan rather than just knocking out the miles and not thinking in advance. The Tuesday and the Thursday prior to Blaydon I did 2 short runs. One was 4 mile and the other 3 miles, both at which I clocked a surprising 7:40 pace which was kind of unheard of for me as my general running with no effort/plodding along pace is about 8:25. So I knew I was in ok shape and that Saturday could be a good day!
The Blaydon Race… possibly one of the best race days in the North East and the excitement at Wallsend Harriers was evident with the constant good luck messages on facebook. I was very excited also and surprisingly didn’t really feel the pressure like the 10k at Blyth.
After the mass crowd squeezing together at the start the anticipation was distracted by the big black gloomy cloud that was hanging over the toon. I heard the bell and we were away, only seconds after the bell came the rain. I decided that my game plan for the race was to run as fast as I felt comfortable and not to clock watch. If I knew my splits I would be assessing them and this time I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to run my own race at my own pace and see what happened. At Blyth I was paced, so this time the aim was to pace myself. I knew I had done a fast mile for the first one but I felt good and I didn’t let it distract me. As we approached the Scotswood road the rain was lashing down! It was like a monsoon! I haven’t seen rain like that in a long time, there was a river practically flowing down the road! The weird thing is as well is that even though it was lashing down it was very quiet and all you could hear was the squelching of runners soggy wet trainers! It certainly kept me distracted for the best part of 3 miles!
I knew that they had changed the end of the race but wasn’t exactly sure how. By the time I had come off the Blaydon bypass my trainers were that wet they felt like lead and my legs were tiring. I knew I had dropped my pace but did all I could to pick it up knowing the end was near. As I saw the finish approaching the road turned to grass, well mud! It was like the end of bad cross country! My sprint finish must have looked very interesting that’s all I can say! As I crossed the line I wiped the rain out of my eyes (thankfully no mascara as I had anticipated the rain and never wore any unlike previous years!) and saw 43:51 staring me in the face! I had to stop a man at the side of me and ask him if that time was right. In good old Geordie style he politely said, “Why aye lass you’ve just ran 43 minutes”. I was gob smacked! Last year I ran 49:50, that was 6 minutes off my time. Now I know the course was 0.15 shorter than last year’s course but that didn’t equate to 6 minutes so I was and still am one happy runner.
After checking out my Garmin I found I had ran the splits in 7:18, 7:27, 7:25, 8:03, 8:08 and 7:50. I was over the moon with my consistency down the Scotswood road; I knew Kev my coach would be proud.
After the race I collected my totally drenched bag and boarded the bus back to town. After a dry down in the toilets of Witherspoons it was the post race gathering of my club. Now the best part about being a member of Wallsend Harriers is the support and the club spirit. Everyone was chuffed with everyone’s times, times ranging from 27 minutes to 57 minutes! It’s always fantastic to listen to everyone’s tales of how they conquered the race and the conditions.
But for now…
Over and Oot!